By Raquel Buckley
The African Studies Center welcomes 12 early and mid-career faculty from universities in Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda.
Established in 2009, U-M African Presidential Scholars has been the University of Michigan’s flagship program for engagement with colleges and universities on the African continent. The ASC has since hosted 199 scholars to date representing a wide range of disciplines.
“UMAPS scholars have become important members of our Michigan community, and over time, we have continued to benefit from their wealth of experience as scholars who are making giant strides in Africa. Coming to share their wealth of knowledge with the Michigan community contributes in many ways to helping to create a diverse and inclusive Michigan,” says Omolade Adunbi, ASC director and professor of Afroamerican and African studies.
“Their presence on campus strengthens collaboration between our students and African universities and the partnerships of U-M faculty and colleagues on the African continent.”
The highly competitive program attracts applications from scholars in all disciplines working at universities and colleges across the African continent. In addition, UMAPS fellows are integrated with the ASC and U-M community, including the home departments of their U-M collaborators.
The fall 2022 cohort consists of:
• Samuel Boahen is a lecturer at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana. He holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Hanbat National University, South Korea. His main research interest involves the design and optimization of energy-efficient heating and cooling systems and the development of test standards and fault detection and diagnosis mechanisms for thermal systems. At U-M, Samuel will work on developing efficiently integrated crop, irrigation and energy subsystem models for a community in Ghana using engineering and economic principles. His U-M host is Panos Y. Papalambros at the College of Engineering.
• Narh Hargoe is a lecturer of dance studies at the School of Performing Arts and artistic director of the Ghana Dance Ensemble in the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana. He received his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from the University of Cape Coast in Ghana, and his research area is in dance ethnography, aesthetics, semiotics and performance studies. His current research is on the Klarna ritual dance as a representation of the culture of the Dangme people of Prampram. He will work closely with Christian Matijas-Mecca and Robin Wilson at the School for Music, Theatre & Dance.
• Thembelihle Luthuli is a lecturer at the School of the Built Environment and Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Her research interests include social epidemiology, population health and indigenous knowledge systems, population dynamics in sub-Saharan Africa, and sustainable development. At U-M, Thembelihle will work with Lindsay Kobayashi of the School of Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology.
• Joseph M. Sieka is a lecturer and deputy director for research at the University of Liberia’s Center for Teaching, Learning and Innovation. Sieka obtained his M.D. from Liberia’s only medical school and a Master of Medical Sciences degree in global health delivery from the Harvard Medical School. His research project focuses on increasing access and quality of maternal health services using the WhatsApp platform and a specialized triage procedure. His host is Jody Lori of the School of Nursing.
• Rodwell Makombe is an associate professor in the Department of English Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of the Free State, South Africa. A rated researcher of the National Research Foundation of South Africa, Rodwell is a 2018-19 fellow of the African Humanities Program Fellowship funded by the American Council of Learned Societies. He received his Ph.D. in literature at the University of Fort Hare in 2012. His research focuses on postcolonial literary studies, social media and crisis literature. At U-M, he will work on a book project tentatively titled “Cultures of Resistance in Post-Mugabe Zimbabwe: Social Media, Comedy and Dissent.” Justine Davis of LSA’s Department of Afroamerican and African Studies will serve as his host.
• Anne Jepkemboi is a lecturer in the Department of History, Archaeology and Heritage Studies at Kyambogo University and a Ph.D. candidate at Makerere University in Uganda. Her UMAPS project focuses on the political economy with emphasis on participation and the relationship between local sugarcane out-grower farmers and sugar cane plantation owners and how this relationship affected socio-economic development in the districts of Jinja and Mayuge in Uganda. Her U-M collaborator is Ellen Poteet in LSA’s Interdepartmental Program in Ancient History.
• Justine Germo Nzweundji is a plant biotechnologist affiliated with the Université des Montagnes in Cameroon. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Yaounde in Cameroon. She has been involved in science advice across Africa, and her UMAPS project is on science policy, mapping the STEM undergraduate education in Cameroon. Her U-M collaborator is Nkem Khumbah of LSA’s Comprehensive Studies Program.
• Ann L. Moagi is a Ph.D. candidate and lecturer at the International Relations Department of Political Sciences at the Thabo Mbeki School of Public and International Affairs in South Africa. Her research interest includes gender studies, Black feminist thought, youth development, race and political philosophy. She has widely researched and written book chapters on women’s studies and African youth development issues. Her U-M host is Raevin Jimenez in LSA’s Department of History.
• Nancy Judith Awori is a tutor at the Department of Media and Communications at the Multimedia University of Kenya, where she also received her bachelor’s degree in film production and animation. She has a master’s degree in women’s and gender studies from the University of Western Cape in South Africa. While at U-M, she will work on a research project aimed at exploring the representation of lesbian subjectivities in contemporary Kenyan films, focusing on the film Rafiki by Wanuri Kahiu. Her faculty host is Larry La Fountain-Stokes LSA’s departments of American Culture, Romance Languages and Literature, and Women’s and Gender Studies.
• Uwitonze Pierre Celestin is an assistant lecturer in physics and is undertaking his Ph.D. research in physics education at the University of Rwanda’s College of Education. He received his Master of Sciences in Physics from Rhodes University in South Africa. His research project titled “Diagnosis and remedies of students’ misconceptions in thermodynamics, a study on secondary students in Rwanda” will inventory students’ misconceptions in thermodynamics and propose a way forward to improve students’ understanding of thermodynamic concepts. His U-M faculty host is Tim McKay of LSA’s Department of Physics.
• Celso Monjane is an assistant professor in the School of Governance at Joaquim Chissano University in Mozambique and holds a Ph.D. from Roskilde University in Denmark. He has completed postgraduate courses in applied data science at the University of the Witwatersrand and advanced statistical modeling at the 2020 and 2021 ICPSR Summer Program at the University of Michigan. His research interests include the business interests of elites and the political economy of natural resources. At U-M, he will work with Anne Pitcher of LSA’s departments of Afroamerican and African Studies, and Political Science, and the Institute for Social Research’s Center for Political Studies, on a research project in which they will explore the origins and structure of business groups, and the extent of linkages between government, political parties and business in Mozambique.
• Ugochi Adaku Okengwu is a senior lecturer in computer sciences at the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria, where she also received her M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in computer science. Her research interests are in artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analysis. Her work at U-M will focus on sentiment analysis of climate change trends using deep learning neural networks in the Niger Delta area of Nigeria. Her U-M faculty host is Rada Mihalcea of the College of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering.
Funding for UMAPS is provided by the Office of the President, Office of the Provost, the South African Initiatives Office in the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, and private donors.
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African Studies Center welcomes 12 to UMAPS program | The University Record – The University Record
By Raquel Buckley